EXHORTATIONS TO PARENTS
The stories of children with their parents have drawn to a close: not that we have exhausted our Treasure House, for I can think of many another; but I fear I have exhausted your patience; and so I turn for a brief moment to the exhortations that Scripture gives to parents. We have looked a little at those in the Old Testament already. But now I want to bring you to the New Testament exhortations: and strangely enough I seem unable to find any such exhortations for the Mother. I suppose the “mother love” should make her wise enough to know how to deal with each child, without instructions: though she might do well to bear in mind the Divine instructions to her husband.
For there are instructions-very few, and very simple-for the fathers. Many a heartache will it save, if only these few words may find a permanent lodgment in the father’s heart.
Ephesians 6:4 reads: “And ye fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord.” The Greek word for “Do not provoke”, is one that is rarely used. The only other place we find it in the New Testament is in Romans 10:19. The noun formed fro it is found in Ephesians 4:26, but nowhere else in the New Testament. There is means “Irritation”. You have been irritated, and the Lord says: “Let not the sun go down on your irritation.” Perhaps the exhortation to the fathers might be rendered: “Ye fathers, do not irritate your children.” How easy it is to irritate them. The word is not as strong as to make them angry. Perhaps it includes the teasing that so often we are tempted to indulge in towards our children. Perhaps we think we have a right to do this, and that it is good for them. On the contrary, it is direct disobedience to the Word of God, and will most surely bring a harvest of sorrow. We are to “bring them up.” The word translated in this way is used again in the 5th chapter of Ephesians, verse 29; where we read that Christ ‘nourishes’ the church. We are not to “drive” the children, but “bring” them: and what a difference! We are to bring them up in the “nurture… of the Lord.” This word translated ‘nurture’ literally means ‘the rearing of a child.’ We find it again in 2 Timothy 3:16, where it is translated “Instruction.” There it is the Word of God, the Scriptures, which ‘nurture’, or ‘instruct’ us. In Hebrews 12:5, 7-8, 11, we find it again, translated this time: ‘Chastening.’ This includes the whippings and other punishments that we are responsible to give our children, and the Scripture tells us that at the time this does not seem to be a matter of joy, but of grief; but afterwards yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those exercised by it. (Hebrews 12:11, New Translation.) We are disobeying the Lord when we do not chastise our children; but we have noticed this when speaking of Eli and his sons. But let us bear in mind that to bring our children up in the nurture of the Lord, chastisement is included. This word also includes training, learning, instruction, discipline: each one most important for the child in its own way; and all are included in “nurture.” But there is another word: We are to bring them up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The word admonition literally means “Putting in mind.” Perhaps most children are forgetful, and part of their training is to put them in mind. What patience is needed for this. Perhaps the word also includes teaching, exhortation, and warning: surely not threatening. All these we must have, but all are to be “of the Lord”: and let us remember, never are we to irritate them.
We get another little word for the fathers in Colossians 3:21. It is only one line in my Greek Testament: but how much is found in that one line! “The fathers, do not stir up your children, in order that they may not be disheartened.” The word for stir up (or, provoke) is found also in 1 Corinthians 9:2; not elsewhere in the New Testament. God our Father is the God of all Encouragement, and we are not to do anything that will dishearten, or discourage, our children. Our character towards them is to be the same as our Father’s character towards us: Encouragement. May the Lord Himself teach us how to do this according to His will: to imitate (literally, mimic) Him. (Ephesians 5:1).
Some of us, with whom the opportunity to heed these admonitions is passed look back with bitter regret on times we have failed to give heed to them. May the dear ones for whom these lines were penned forgive these failures towards them, and may they never have such regrets, as they grow older.
Though there does not seem to be any special admonition to the mothers, there is a most important message to the young women, and it is clear this message includes the young mothers. The Apostle is telling Titus of the duties of the aged women; and part of this duty is to ‘teach’, or, ‘admonish’, the young women. It is a remarkable word, used only here in the New Testament. It literally means to “recall one to his senses.” Very similar words are used in three other places in this chapter, and translated discreet, or, sober. Well, the aged women are to admonish the young women to be “attached to their husbands, to be attached to their children, discreet, chaste, (pure, undefiled), diligent in homework, (literally, workers at home: a very much needed word today, when there is a special temptation to ‘work away from home’) good, subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be evil spoken of.” (Titus 2:4-5.)